How to Improve Your Photos

I’ve owed you guys a photography post since I went to BlogHer back in early August, so here it is… finally!

The photography session that I went to discussed how to improve your photos– from composition and lighting to self-portraits and how pictures can improve your blog. I learned a lot from the session and it was easily the most valuable that I attended at BlogHer. Here are the tips that I took away from it.

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The best camera you have is the one you have on you.

Basically, your camera is doing no good at home. Always take your camera with you! It allows you to document your life and capture experiences. It doesn’t matter if you’re using a fancy DSLR, point-and-shoot, or iPhone camera. Keep your camera on you at all times and snap away.

I use my DSLR quite a bit, but I always have my point-and-shoot in my purse, and I take my iPhone with me on runs to take pictures, like the one below.

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Look for lines.

Look for the lines of life (naturally and manmade), like roads, paths, buildings, etc. to include in your photos. Lines naturally lead your eye to another point, and images with lines show progress and where you are going. For instance, a photo of a path in the woods reflects a journey while a photo of just the forest doesn’t do as much. Look for lines everywhere– blades of grass, hardwood floors, even a Tupperware container’s textured top.

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Use the Rule of Thirds.

It’s totally fine to place your subject in the middle of your photo, but if you divide your field of view into thirds, then place the subject in one of those spaces, the composition is often more pleasing to the eye. Basically, think of a Tic-Tac-Toe grid on your photos. The main elements of the photo should come where the lines cross, not in the middle. Start thinking: “Am I centering an image?” and then try the Rule of Thirds to take the picture.

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Use your photos to tell a story.

A picture is worth a 1,000 words, right? The way you capture a scene can tell a story on its own (or be accompanied with just a few words). A picture sometimes tells a different story to different people, but make the image tell the story you want. You don’t even need words to tell a story; it just has to provoke thought in your readers.

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It is better to underexpose than overexpose.

When you’re snapping photos, it is better to underexpose (too dark) than overexpose (too light) photos. I use iPhoto to “brighten” my dark photos, but I can’t fix an overexposured photo. When this happens, my only option is to change it to black and white.

Edited underexposed photo:

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Edited overexposed photo:

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Light is your friend.

Light is flattering for people, animals, scenery, and especially food. But, it’s not always easy to find, so don’t be afraid to make light happen on purpose. For instance, chose a table at a restaurant next to a window or move your dish near a candle to take a better picture in a dark setting. Additionally, look for good light sources in your home (i.e. a window) and remember them.

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Keep It simple.

Simplicity is key in photos. Don’t over-prop and don’t be afraid to move something out of the way– like the junk on your dining room table. Also, take a minute to look around and see what is going on in the scene. Make sure there aren’t any random pug tails or a plant growing out of the back of someone’s head. Just by changing the angle, you can get a better photo.

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Snack

Mid-morning, while working away, I snacked on some red grapes and a Zucchini Muffin.

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Lunch

Not even an hour later, I decided to make lunch. I considered eating another snack, but skipping right to lunch made a lot more sense since grapes and a muffin didn’t do anything for my hunger.

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I used some leftovers from last night’s Creamy Fettuccine With Leeks, Corn, and Arugula, which I threw into a wrap, added some extra arugula, and ate as a sandwich. Not bad! 😀

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I finished off lunch with another Zucchini Muffin. I’m lovin’ these things!

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Up next: exercise! I’m taking Murph for his long walk of the day and then meeting Mal for a track workout.

See ya for dinner! I have a yummy one planned! 😎

97 Comments

  1. Thanks for all the great photography tips!! I always try to work on getting better photos because all the bloggers out there have great ones. Maybe one day you can talk about how to get “up close and personal” on the food without the image being blurry??? I’ve always wanted to know how to do that

  2. I love these tips! Thank you for sharing!

    I am so bad at bringing my camera everywhere because I only have a DSLR at the moment and it always gets really heavy. Do you have any suggestions for bags that can carry both your DSLR and all of your other day to day items?

  3. great tips! you always have such great pictures in your blog! I really struggle with remembering the camera, remembering to charge it, remembering that it’s actually in my purse. That’s definitely something I need to work on 🙂

  4. im loving those zuchinni muffins too! i get so giddy with muffins.. im still wondering why i didnt put ‘muffins’ in the name of my blog lol

    why the heck is it that when i leave my camera at home, just once, i miss the best photo opportunities. the universe is too ironic like that!

    <3

  5. Great photo tips, I took a photography class one summer and loved it…now I miss it!

    Great looking lunch, looks like something I would throw together, very origional 😉

    Have a great evening!

  6. GREAT tips. Love the rule of thirds – my P&S (which I don’t use anymore because I have conquered my dad’s fancy-pants dLSR) has the thirds grid on its screen. Very useful!

    Did you know that in film photography (like actual old-school black and white film) it’s better to overexpose than underexpose? I’d explain it, but nobody would really understand what I’m rambling on about, so… hehe. I’ll explain if someone wants to know. 😉

  7. Thanks for the tips! Very helpful. I was reading Bon Appetit and a food writer said the same thing about lighting – using natural lights, avoiding harsh flashes and if it really is too dark you can use a flash and use a napkin over the flash to diffuse the light.

  8. great tips with pictures. I have never been a good photographer and I am lazy when it comes to taking my camera out.

    I always blame things on my camera but I know its my fault.

    Those muffins look so moist!

  9. GREAT photo tips!! This was exactly the type of article I was hoping to come across for awhile now. Your photos always look professional! How thoughtful of you to share your knowledge.

  10. This is awesome! As the new owner of a DSLR that my siblings gave me for Christmas, I’ve been pretty trigger-happy with the camera lately, but definitely don’t quite have that pro-photo quality down yet. Now I know some things to focus on, so thanks! These instructional posts are invaluable to us blogging newbies. 🙂

  11. Thanks for this — one thing I’m working on is taking good pictures at night time, when I make dinner. I get beautiful sunlight in my kitchen during the afternoon — when I’m usually at work! I’m going to try to make some things for posting on the blog over the weekend in the afternoon for food photoshoots…and hopefully I can figure out some lighting things for night time dinner shoots eventually!

  12. I enjoyed reading through this post! It is simple and well written. I will share it with my daughter too! Thanks! I also want to apologize for having a blog name so similar – having only sat down to a computer for emails and banking and the odd “google” – I had no idea the web was full of food blogs – no I hadn’t seen the movie about Julie:)! Crazy I know – but I live absorbed in our little world! – until a few friends and my husband kept hounding for me to write recipes on a blog!! Did I think to look for one with carrots??? No!! They have been a joke around our house for years and I do like them! and I live on chocolate everyday – but then so do many! Best quit writing! sorry so long and congratulations on your book! IF you can judge by the cover – it looks great!!

  13. I’m working on taking better pictures, especially with my meals. (one of the hardest things about food photography is that I either eat it before I remember to snap a pic or the food gets cold)

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